Assessing Needs is a Key to Caregiving Success

Assessing Needs is a Key to Caregiving Success

Seeing a loved one’s mental and physical decline with age can be distressing.  Knowing how to manage your senior’s needs will provide better quality of life for you both.  Assess how much independence remains so you can meet your loved one’s needs efficiently and effectively.

Improving life

Caregiving to a senior whose abilities are declining is stressful to you both, and some studies reflect it is vital for your wellbeing as the caregiver and the wellbeing of your loved one to find ways to reduce that stress.  Taking steps to lessen the caregiver’s burden and increase the senior’s independence is a proactive strategy to manage stress levels.

Daily needs assessment 

In order to adequately meet the needs of your loved one, it’s important to make a careful evaluation.  Establishing how much independence your senior has in accomplishing everyday tasks will allow you to make adjustments that directly support remaining abilities.  

There are two areas of everyday tasks that should be evaluated.  The first set of everyday tasks is Activities of Daily Living, or ADLs.  This includes activities such as using the toilet, dressing, grooming, bathing, eating, and being able to move about and change position.  The second set of tasks is referred to as Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, or IADLs.  Such tasks as using the telephone, being able to run errands, managing finances, doing laundry and housekeeping, and managing medications are included in IADLs.  Both ADLs and IADLs can be evaluated by using a tool such as an assessment scale.  Use the scale to peg how much help your loved one needs in performing tasks and to ascertain what tasks will require assistance and how much.

Living space assessment

Once an evaluation of your loved one’s abilities is complete, you will need to look carefully at the living space.  By assessing the safety risks of the home and making appropriate adjustments, you can keep your senior living comfortably and independently longer.  

Oftentimes small modifications yield big results.  For instance, the Alzheimer’s Association notes simply ensuring foods and beverages are served at appropriate temperatures can be helpful to those with a reduced sense of temperature.  Another simple but effective improvement is lighting.  Improved lighting helps seniors whose vision is fading or who experience disorientation at night.  Adding extra light fixtures, putting in brighter bulbs, and installing nightlights can go a long way to improving independence.  Staircases can be especially hazardous, so ensure they are well-lit and have handrails on both sides and light switches at both landings.  Also keep walkways free of clutter and remove or secure area rugs to reduce the risk of tripping.  

Ideally, your senior should be able to live on a single floor of the home, preferably the ground floor.  The living area should include a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen facilities, all on the same level.  The entryway to the home should be free of stairs, and thresholds should be smooth.  Some studies show adding a ramp to the entryway is helpful if navigating stairs is an issue.  

Bathrooms are one of the most dangerous rooms in the home, with 235,000 bathroom-related injuries putting Americans in emergency rooms each year.  Surfaces are often slippery, and loss of balance can be hazardous.  However with some basic modifications, you can greatly reduce risks and enhance your loved one’s daily life. 

Assessment improves independence 

While caregiving to a senior can be a challenge, good assessment is a key to improving quality of life.  Thoroughly gauge your senior’s abilities and evaluate the living area.  Both you and your loved one will benefit from being able to effectively and efficiently meet needs. 

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